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PM defers visit to Japan; Cambodia trip on

Source: PTI
November 14, 2012 17:59 IST
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Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has put off his visit to Japan from Thursday for the annual summit in view of the sudden political developments in that country.

Singh was to visit Japan for three days in the first leg of his two-nation tour from Thursday to November 20. The second leg of visit to Cambodia for ASEAN-India and East Asia Summits will take place as scheduled from November 18.

"There have been fast-paced internal developments in Japan. Factoring these in, the Government of India has decided that we should look for new dates. So the prime minister is not going from November 15 to 18," said Gautam Bambawale, joint secretary (East Asia), in the External Affairs Ministry at a press conference in New Delhi.

Bambawale as well as External Affairs Ministry spokesman Syed Akbaruddin said that the two countries will be working on new mutually-convenient dates for the visit.

Sources said the decision to put off the visit was taken in view of the "sudden" developments in Japan, which includes the decision of Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda to dissolve Parliament and announce new elections.

The announcement of new elections could take place on November 16, the day when Singh would have been in Tokyo and it was thought appropriate by the government here to call off the visit now, the sources said.

The Japanese foreign affairs ministry conveyed to the external affairs ministry in New Delhi about the latest political developments after which a decision was taken to defer the visit.

Explaining the reasons for postponing the visit, Akbaruddin said the MEA had been in touch with Japanese foreign ministry and they had "kept us updated" on the developments.

In view of the possibility of elections being announced in Japan, both the governments "agreed" that new dates needed to be finalised which would be mutually-convenient.

The visit may now take place after December when the elections are held there.

The prime minister was initially scheduled to visit only Cambodia for the 10th ASEAN-India and 7th East Asia Summits.

Japan was not in the itinerary because of the uncertain political climate there although the annual bilateral summit was due.

Sources said Japan was included after indications were received that elections would take place only in December or later.

During Singh's visit, the two countries were expected to sign a number of deals, including in infrastructure sector.

Ahead of his anticipated visit, Singh told Japanese news agency Kyodo that the two governments would be signing an agreement on cooperation in rare earth minerals.

"We would like to see the concerned companies on both sides quickly work out their commercial arrangements for cooperation," he told the agency.

A Japanese business daily Nikkei reported that deals were expected to be signed for 19 infrastructure projects worth about $15 billion.

To a question, Bambawale said work on the Western Dedicated Freight Corridor, being built with Japanese assistance, was moving well and it is expected to be completed as per the schedule in 2017.

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